Timing: I wrote this as post -'Fractures', before I saw the final four. Therefore it is classed as alternate universe. It takes place a few monens after 'Fractures', D'Argo and Chiana, and John and Aeryn, are couples.

Spoilers: Anything up to 'Fractures', but nothing significant I can think of other than Jool's existence and Zhaan's absence.

Disclaimer: Farscape is the property of the Jim Henson Company, Channel 9 and Hallmark entertainment. My use of the characters should be considered a compliment to the writers.

Big thanks to SciFiChick66 for beta-reading once again!

To anyone who wants to know what I was thinking when I wrote this...DON'T ASK.

'Kiss and Don't Tell'

Part 1: Bad Timing

Jool was maniacally chopping some kind of root into pieces. Crichton watched her out of the corner of one eye. She was obviously in a very bad mood. He might have offered to help if he weren't so worried about the way she was handling that knife.

"Ow! Oh, hezmana!"

Crichton turned his full attention to her. She was clutching her finger which she had evidently cut on the knife.

"That's it," Jool said. "I've had it! Somebody should be doing this for me! I cut myself!"

"Sorry, sweet thing, you aren't in Kansas anymore," Crichton said, returning his attention to his own meal.

"Crichton," Jool said, coming towards him clutching her finger, "until you have something intelligent to say to me, just keep your mouth shut."

"You want me to help?" Crichton asked.

"No," Jool said, looking angrier, "what I want is to get off this frelling ship and get back to my home."

She stalked back into the galley where she promptly fell over a pan that she'd dropped earlier.

"Frell!" She said, when she had steadied herself. "Frell, frell, frell."

With each word she kicked the work bench hard.

"Jool?" Crichton said, watching her actions.

"What?!" Jool snarled at him.

"Are you alright?" He asked, concerned.

Jool stared at him as if he'd just grown an extra head. Her hair immediately turned bright red.

"Are you clamped?" She said, advancing on him again. "Of course I'm not alright. My cousins are dead, I have been frozen for twenty-two cycles, I can't get home and, worst of all, I'm stuck here on this prison ship, full of degenerate aliens who are determined to get themselves killed - and anyone unfortunate enough to get stuck with them!"

"I meant...are you worse than usual?" Crichton said, now more worried. He'd thought she'd stopped viewing them that way.

"Why?" Jool asked, regarding him through narrowed eyes.

"Well, you're not usually this...aggressive," Crichton said, memories of her brief human-cide attempt resurfacing. "At least...not all the time. Have you been fighting with Chiana again?"

Jool didn't seem to have heard his question.

"Aggressive?" She said, suddenly looking tense and fearful. "Am I being aggressive?"

"Well...you don't usually murder vegetables, or kick work benches, or damage DRDs. And I talked to Chiana...she said you nearly knocked her out this morning."

Jool's face was white.

"What's the matter?" Crichton asked. "You look pale."

"I've got to go," Jool said, and ran out.

"Jool!" Crichton yelled after her.

He got no reply.

***

"Pilot, has she contacted you?" Crichton asked finally.

"Yes Commander," Pilot replied. "Several arns ago. She instructed me not to allow anyone to enter her quarters under any circumstances."

"What the frell is going on?" Aeryn asked, stopping her march down the corridor to join the group.

"Jool has not left her quarters for over six arns," D'Argo replied in a hushed voice. "She has also refused to allow anyone to enter."

"And she's not answering her comms," Crichton added.

"Can't we just enjoy the peace?" Chiana said half-heartedly.

Crichton shook his head.

"She's been acting pretty strange," he said. "When I saw her earlier she got mad, then she looked...scared, then she ran out."

"What did you say to her?" D'Argo asked suspiciously.

"Look...nothing D'Argo...I just asked her if she was okay and she went white as a sheet and ran out," Crichton replied. "I don't know anymore than you do."

"We'll have to destroy the lock and force the door," Aeryn said, pulling out her pulse pistol.

Crichton grabbed it.

"We don't know why she's holed herself up in there. What if she's dangerous?"

Aeryn shot him a disbelieving look.

"Dangerous? Jool?"

"My point is, we don't know. So maybe we should try to contact her again first."

"Fine John, try again. When you're done, let me know," Aeryn replied, impatiently.

Crichton hit his comms again.

"Jool, please respond."

No answer.

"Jool we're outside your quarters," Crichton added.

"Leave me alone."

The voice made them all exchange worried glances. She sounded hoarse and her breathing was far more rapid than normal. Something was definitely wrong.

"If you do not reply I will force the door," Aeryn said.

"No!" Came the panicked response. "Don't open the door."

"Jool, whatever it is, we want to help you," D'Argo added.

"You can't come in!" Jool sounded frantic. "D'Argo, Crichton you have to go."

"Someone has to come in and see you," D'Argo said.

"Aeryn. Just Aeryn."

Aeryn's eyebrows rose as she looked at Crichton.

"She's asking for *me*?"

Crichton and D'Argo exchanged looks.

"Looks like we'll have to do as the lady says," Crichton said, turning to Aeryn. "The microt you find out what's going on, call us. We'll be in command."

Aeryn nodded and Crichton and D'Argo started up the corridor.

"I don't like this John," D'Argo said.

"Me neither," Crichton replied. "Just when I thought things were actually getting back to normal around here."

"We've got a problem we don't know how to deal with. That sounds normal to me," D'Argo replied.

"Good point D," Crichton replied.

***

As soon as they were out of earshot, Aeryn activated her comms again.

"Jool, Crichton and D'Argo have left. I am alone."

A moment later Pilot opened the door. Aeryn stepped inside. Her eyes widened. Jool's quarters were a mess, but that was no surprise. What was a surprise was that Jool's desk chair was broken, smashed on the floor. Her desk was overturned and the covers had been torn off her bed and ripped into pieces. There was no sign of Jool at first. Then Aeryn heard a whimpering sound from the far corner. She approached the source of it.

"Jool?" She asked.

She found Jool, huddled in the corner. She looked pale and frightened. Her hair was so bright Aeryn almost had to blink.

"What is the matter?" Aeryn asked. "Why would you not allow John or D'Argo to enter?"

Jool raised her head. Aeryn started. Jool's usually green eyes were now as red as her hair. They were also filled with tears.

"Aeryn," she said, her lip trembling. "Help me."

"How?" Aeryn asked, kneeling down beside her. "How can I help you?"

Tears began to fall down Jool's face.

"I don't know!" She sobbed.

"Do you know what is the matter?" Aeryn asked.

Jool nodded miserably.

"I'm going through my...safran t'la," she whispered.

"Your what?" Aeryn asked, searching her memory and drawing a blank.

"It's something that happen to my people," Jool choked out. "When they reach...maturity."

Aeryn suddenly realised what Jool meant.

"It is part of your...mating cycle," she said.

Jool nodded.

"I don't know what to do," she said miserably.

"It's...your first time," Aeryn said.

"It only happens to us once, when we are ready to bear offspring. It drives us to take a mate in order to start a family," Jool said. "We experience it later than most other species. Aeryn, what am I supposed to do?"

"What would happen if you were on your home planet?" Aeryn asked.

"My parents would have already selected a group of suitable mates," Jool said flushing unhappily. "All I would have to do is choose one. Whoever I...reacted to...the strongest."

"But we have no other Interions on board," Aeryn said.

"It shouldn't matter," Jool said, dropping her gaze. "As long as we are...physically compatible."

"That was why you wouldn't allow Crichton or D'Argo to enter," Aeryn said, with sudden understanding.

"They can't come near me," Jool said, turning fearful eyes back to Aeryn. "John is with you and D'Argo is with Chiana. I can't be near either of them or...."

"Is there any other way to deal with this?" Aeryn demanded.

"I don't know," Jool said in despair. "I never needed to know before. I never thought I would be away from home when this happened."

"Then we will have to find a way," Aeryn said.

She was rather worried about what that solution might be.

***

Crichton, D'Argo and Chiana stared at Aeryn in varying degrees of shock as she related what she had learned.

"So," Crichton said, when Aeryn had finished. "Clarification. Interions are like Vulcans? They have a pon-farr, like in Star Trek?"

"What are you talking about John?" Aeryn asked impatiently.

"Nothing. It doesn't matter."

"How does this involve us?" Chiana asked. "We leave her alone for an arn or so and she takes care of it. Problem solved."

"I don't believe you would be telling us this if it was that simple," D'Argo said to Aeryn.

"No," Aeryn said.

"Of course not," Crichton said. "It's never that simple. There's always something. Hell every movie I have ever seen where they did this, they found *some* reason why that didn't work. So, what's ours?"

"Interions have some kind of latent telepathic ability. It doesn't usually surface, but part of the safran t'la is the forming of a mental bond between mates," Aeryn replied.

"And without forming this bond it cannot be resolved," D'Argo finished.

Aeryn nodded. "Exactly."

"So, basically, Jool's horny as hell and the only way we can get her through this is to find someone for her to bump uglies with?" Crichton asked.

"Yes," Aeryn said. "That is the situation. How are we going to deal with this?"

Crichton and D'Argo exchanged glances.

"It has to be someone male right?" Crichton asked.

Aeryn shot him a look of pure annoyance.

"Yes Crichton it does. That was why Jool explained this to me instead of you."

"Just checking," Crichton said. "That kind of narrows our options."

"Well Pilot's probably not compatible with Jool," Chiana said, barely concealing a smile.

Aeryn nodded, not laughing.

"And neither is Rygel. Stark has vanished again. That leaves us with you John, and you D'Argo."

"No way is that little tralk going anywhere near D'Argo," Chiana said hotly.

"We can't just...treat it somehow and leave her like this?" Crichton asked.

"There is no treatment," Aeryn said. "And, while she is in this...condition, her body is producing abnormally high levels of hormones. She cannot continue to function in this state for more than a few weekens at most."

"So...you're saying that if Jool doesn't get laid in the next couple of weekens she's going to die?" Crichton asked, stunned.

"Yes," Aeryn said. "Now do you understand the problem?"

Crichton shook his head.

"Man," he said. "Mother nature sure works in some frelled up ways out here."

"Thank you for your perspective Crichton. The fact remains that Jool requires a compatible mate. It either has to be one of you, which Jool objects to as you are both involved, or we have to find an alternative."

"We can't really just leave her with some strange guy can we?" Crichton said quietly to D'Argo.

"What do you mean?" Chiana demanded. "You're actually going to go along with this?"

"Look Chi, if it were anyone else we might consider it. Hell, if it was D'Argo or you, you guys could probably handle it. But we're talking about the princess here. I doubt she's done a lot of sleeping around."

"Just what are you implying?" Chiana demanded.

"Jool told me that this only occurs once to Interions," Aeryn said. "I would agree that simply finding another male is not the best option."

"It's her first time?" Crichton asked, stunned.

"It's a biological impulse that occurs once, when an Interion female is physically able to bear offspring," Aeryn said impatiently. "Can we get back to the problem?"

"John, while I do wish to help Jool, I agree with her objection. I am with Chiana now," D'Argo said. "I do not think that I am the best choice."

Crichton glanced at Aeryn.

"I would say that the same goes for me," he said.

"I don't like this anymore than you do," Aeryn said. "But if we run out of time...."

"Yeah," Crichton said. "I get it. I'm kind of hoping it doesn't come to that."

"Who else are we going to find?" Aeryn said.

"It is between the two of us, John," D'Argo said.

"I'm not doing rock-paper-scissors on this, D'Argo! There has got to be someone else."

Pilot's face suddenly appeared on the clamshell.

"Moya has detected Talyn at the extreme edge of her sensor range," he said.

"Thank you Pilot," Aeryn replied.

Crichton and D'Argo exchanged glances.

"Are you thinking what I'm thinking?" Crichton asked.

"You're going to leave her alone with Crais?" Chiana asked.

"We said it should be someone she knew," Crichton said.

"She might be better off with someone she doesn't know," D'Argo said darkly.

"Yeah, okay, it's not ideal. But he's male, he's compatible - probably- he's here and he's single. That's four good reasons why this could work out."

"I cannot believe that you are seriously suggesting allowing Crais to mate with her," D'Argo said.

Crichton leaned in close.

"D'Argo...Aeryn said she needs someone - anyone. I know it's not ideal, but I don't think it's going to be any better with one of us. And the alternative is...death."

"I doubt that she will accept him," D'Argo said doubtfully.

"Jool said that she will mate with whichever male she reacts strongest to," Aeryn said. "But if only one is available then she will simply accept him. The...instinct appears to be very strong."

"You really think that Crais is going to agree to this?" Chiana asked.

"Well," Crichton said, "I think we'd have better luck if it was Aeryn."

Aeryn gave him a dirty look.

"But the guy's been out there, alone on Talyn, for what...two cycles? I wouldn't be surprised if he's resorted to a blow-up doll."

For once Crichton's meaning came across loud and clear. Chiana laughed. A look of distaste flickered across D'Argo's features.

"You really think that this is the best option?" Aeryn asked, rather less than convinced.

"Would you prefer it if it was me?" Crichton asked.

Aeryn's eyes flickered as she considered this.

"No," she said finally, not meeting his eyes.

"Then we're decided," Crichton said. "Now to go convince Crais...."

***

Crais blinked. He stared at Crichton's face on the viewscreen. His brain ran over Crichton's words once again. The translator microbes had to have misinterpreted them.

"What?" He said finally.

"We," Crichton said slowly. "Need you. To frell Jool."

That was what Crais had thought he'd said.

"Is there...any specific reason for this?" Crais asked, still unable to believe that he was having this conversation.

"Basically," Crichton said, trying to use as few words as possible. "Jool's in her mating cycle. If she doesn't get laid, she dies."

"Ah," Crais said. "And this is the best solution that you could come up with?"

"Look Crais," Crichton said. "I'm not wild about this either, okay, but Jool doesn't want someone who's already involved, Chiana won't let D'Argo anywhere near her and...I'm with Aeryn now."

Crais gave no discernible reaction to that news.

"Hell, if it was you we'd just dump you on some commerce planet and leave you to take care of it on your own, but this is Jool. We're not going to leave her with some stranger, especially since...." Crichton broke off.

"Especially since what?" Crais said, suspiciously.

Crichton debated with himself about whether he ought to mention this.

"Especially since, according to Aeryn, this will be her first time," he said finally.

Crais' eyebrows rose. Coming from him, that was probably shock.

"She's been holed up in her quarters for nearly ten arns," Crichton said. "Aeryn's with her now. She doesn't know how to deal with this, she's scared and she's panicking. Now, I don't like this. If things were normal, you'd be the last person I'd want anywhere near any of this crew, but this isn't normal. Right now the only thing that matters is that we find some way - someone - to get her through this. And, unfortunately, you're all we have."

"How much time does she have?" Crais asked slowly.

"Aeryn said she could last out a couple of weekens physically. Mentally she's getting worse all the time."

"I will contact you shortly," Crais said and closed the comms channel before Crichton could say anything more.

"Damn it Crais!" Crichton swore when Crais' face disappeared from view.

If Crais didn't agree then it was onto plan B. He was plan B. Aeryn would freak.

***

Crais pulled out his transponder. He wanted to think in peace without Talyn's endless stream of questions. A part of his brain was still trying to comprehend the situation. Of all the things he could have been asked, this was one thing he had never expected. And he wasn't quite sure how to deal with it.

In his Peacekeeper days a situation like this would have been simple for two reasons. As it meant nothing more to him than recreation, he would have had no moral qualms with it but, as Jool was not sebacean, he would have rejected her outright. And, second, he wouldn't have cared what happened to her. Now things were far more complicated. Doing this might save Jool's life, but she would probably never want to look at him again once she had recovered.

And she was Interion. Crais had already broken many of the Peacekeeper rules that he'd been indoctrinated with, but purity laws he had not. And a part of him, one that Crais had resolutely kept hidden, considered Jool attractive. The same part of him didn't want to do this. The attraction contrasted so sharply with all that Crais had been taught that he struggled to suppress it. This could destroy everything.

His reaction to Crichton's comment that it was her first time bothered him. He was worrying about her feelings, considering how this would impact on her. When had he started to think like Crichton...like a hewman? His simple, ordered little world had been smashed and it was all a hewman's fault. And yet, was his new life worse?

You are still Bialar Crais, he thought, you have always done what needed to be done.

***

"How long has he been in there?" Crichton asked, getting up and pacing across Moya's command for the thousandth time.

"Over four arns," Aeryn stated, irritated by his constant fidgeting.

Chiana laughed.

"Must be having fun," she said.

Crichton's forehead wrinkled.

"Aeryn, exactly how crazy did you say Jool was?"

"I doubt that Crais is in any danger," Aeryn said, raising an eyebrow. "He can easily overpower her."

"Yeah, normally," Crichton said.

"He's probably just being...thorough," D'Argo said.

Both men grimaced.

"Thanks D," Crichton said. "I could have done without that particular image in my head."

Suddenly he turned to Aeryn.

"What was it you said before?" He asked.

"About what?" Aeryn replied.

"About why Jool couldn't just...you know...spank the monkey - although I suppose that doesn't really apply to her."

"What are you talking about, John?" D'Argo asked.

"You said something about mental bonding," Crichton said to Aeryn, refusing to be distracted.

"Jool must form a mental bond during the mating process," Aeryn replied.

"So...Jool is going to be telepathically linked to Crais?!" Crichton exclaimed.

"It is only an unconscious connection and Crais is not Interion. It should not affect them," Aeryn replied calmly.

"*Should* not? Isn't this something we should have considered *before* we let Crais in there?"

"It's a bit late now," Chiana replied.

"Exactly. So there's no point in discussing it," Aeryn said.

"Okay," Crichton replied, unwillingly.

He was quiet for a microt.

"Four arns?" He asked again. "I thought this was a one-time job. It cannot take four arns."

"There is no way to predict what it will take," Aeryn said sharply. "Now can we please refrain from discussing this. You have talked of nothing else ever since he went in there."

"I'm just worried about Jool," Crichton said.

Chiana gave him a rather sceptical look.

"I am," Crichton protested.

"Fine," Aeryn said. "You're concerned. We're all concerned. Now stop talking about this before I shoot you.

"Would you really do that?"

"I advise you not to test me."

***

Crais woke up naturally, then blinked at the bright light. Why were the lights on so bright? Then he realised, the sleep cycle was over - and he was still here. He felt something shift next to him and realised that it was Jool. She was still asleep. Her hair had faded back to its normal colour. She looked calm and peaceful, completely unlike the way she had been the night before. Apparently, last night had done the trick.

It took him several microts to realise what was bothering him about this. He was still here. Until two cycles ago he'd been a Peacekeeper. You recreated and then you left. And in the last few cycles he'd spent the majority of his time alone. He'd never woken up with anyone before. Could this situation possibly get any more ironic?

Jool shifted again in her sleep. She would soon wake. Crais debated with himself about whether he should stay until she woke up. For the first time in his life he was utterly unsure of how a woman would react to him. He had no idea how her species did this. She might prefer him to stay. Crais tried to imagine their conversation. No, it was definitely better for him to leave. Now that his presence was no longer required he doubted that Jool would even wish to be in the same room as him. She would want to forget that this had ever happened.

Crais got up slowly, careful not to wake her. He retrieved his uniform and dressed. Then he left quietly and returned to Talyn, leaving Jool still sleeping peacefully.

***

Jool slowly opened her eyes when she heard the door close. She'd woken when he had got out of bed. She had pretended to still be asleep, grateful to him for leaving. She couldn't look him in the eye this morning, she wasn't sure if she ever could again. Her actions last night might have been the result of a bizarre physiological condition, but she still couldn't just forget them. And she couldn't forget who she had done them with. But still, in a way she was grateful that it had been Crais. As awkward as it would be to face him after this, it would have been ten times worse if it had been Crichton or D'Argo. She would have had to see them everyday - and she knew that Aeryn and Chiana probably wouldn't have forgiven her, even though it wasn't her fault or choice. No, it was definitely best that it had been Crais. He was used to recreation wasn't he? He probably wouldn't even give it a second thought. Soon she would put it behind her, and everything would be normal again. Or as normal as it could ever be.

But one thing bothered her. If she'd been home, the male she'd mated with would have become her husband. She certainly didn't expect - or want - Crais to do that. But this was something she should have shared only with her life long mate. Last night should have been something special. Instead it had been with someone she didn't even like. It had meant nothing.

So how come she had enjoyed it so much?

***

He wasn't running away. Bialar Crais didn't run away. It would be best if he left. In a few weekens he could return. Then Jool would have forgotten about their night together and it would be less awkward for her. That would be the best solution.

For everyone.

***

Crichton approached tentatively. This was the first time he had seen Jool since she'd stopped barricading herself in her quarters. She was apparently fixing herself something to eat. She looked a lot calmer than she had before, but still not completely happy.

"Hey Jool," he said.

"What do you want Crichton?" Jool asked, without turning to face him.

Crichton smiled. It looked like things were back to normal.

"I just thought I'd check if you were okay," he replied.

"I'm fine," Jool said, keeping her back to him.

Crichton approached slowly, debating with himself about whether he should say anything. Curiosity got the better of him.

"So..." he said casually, "how did it go with Captain Crunch?"

"Fine," Jool said again.

Was it his imagination or had she tensed at his words?

"It er...seemed to take a while," he added.

Jool definitely tensed at that. She didn't answer.

"So...did you...have fun?" He asked, unable to resist.

Jool spun round.

"Crichton, I don't want to talk about this. It's done. Can't we just forget it ever happened?"

"Okay," Crichton said, holding up his hands in surrender. "Just wondered."

"Well don't," Jool said. "It's none of your business."

"Okay," Crichton said again.

Something told him there was a little more to it than that.



Part 2: Mediator

"Pilot, are there any lifesigns?" Aeryn asked, moving instinctively towards the weapons console.

"Moya's sensors detect one. Very faint," Pilot replied.

"It could be a trap," Aeryn said to Crichton. "If we move in closer, they might use the opportunity to attack."

Crichton shook his head.

"If there is someone aboard that ship we can't just leave them to die," he said. "We have to take the risk."

"Pilot," D'Argo asked. "Have you detected any Peacekeeper signals in the area?"

"None," Pilot replied.

"I say we risk it," Crichton said.

Aeryn glanced to D'Argo, who nodded.

"Agreed," she said.

"Pilot, move us in closer and deploy the docking web," Crichton said.

"I am doing so now," Pilot replied.

"I hope you know what you're doing John," Aeryn said.

"So do I," Crichton replied. "So do I."

***

"Pilot said that the lifesigns were faint. Whoever is on that craft may well require medical attention," Aeryn stated.

"Or it could be a trap," D'Argo replied.

Aeryn glanced at him.

"Or it could be a trap," she agreed.

"There's only one way to find out," Crichton said. He hit his comms. "Jool, are you ready for a patient?"

"I'm ready." Came the reply.

Crichton motioned to Aeryn and pulled out his pulse pistol.

"Ladies first," he said.

Aeryn shot him a look, but led the way. The ship was small, obviously built for two people at most. It had been badly damaged.

"Assessment?" Crichton asked Aeryn.

"Primitive," Aeryn replied. "Shielding is either broken or non-existent, no weapons worth mentioning and badly damaged." She gave Crichton a significant look. "Whatever hit this thing hit it hard."

"Peacekeepers?" Crichton said.

Aeryn shook her head.

"Unlikely. This craft would be no match even for a single prowler and I don't recognise the technology. Peacekeepers wouldn't bother to attack it. Unless...."

"Unless the pilot is someone very special," Crichton finished.

They shared a look.

"Cover me," Aeryn said, climbing into the pod.

The pilot was still in her seat - unconscious and bleeding.

"She looks Interion," Crichton said in surprise.

"I suggest we get her to Jool straight away," Aeryn said. "Then maybe she will stay alive long enough to explain this to us."

***

Crichton sat in the medilab, regarding their still-unconscious guest. If it hadn't been for the ridges on the forehead and ears that both had, he would have found it hard to believe that she and Jool belonged to the same species. While Jool was...well, orange, this woman was not. Her skin was pale and her hair was white, with strands of blue throughout it. Crichton also noticed the decorations that this woman had. Each of her forehead ridges was pierced by a small metal barbell. At the top of her left ear there were two small studs, blue to match her hair, on her right there were none.

"Jool?" He asked.

"What?" Jool said, looking up from her work.

"These piercings, do they mean anything?" He asked.

"They are union markings," Jool said, matter-of-factly.

"Union? As in marriage?"

"Yes," Jool said, impatiently. "The ones on her forehead mean she is married. The ones on her ear indicate that she has two sons."

"Because they're blue," Crichton said.

Jool gave him a strange look.

"They mean that she has sons because they are on her left ear. If they were on her right, that would mean that she had daughters."

"So they're just blue to match her hair."

"No," Jool said, looking seriously at him. "They are blue because her children are dead. If they were alive, the studs would be red."

"What about her marriage ones?"

Jool shook her head.

"They are implanted for life. They are not changed or removed even with the death of a mate. There is no way to tell."

"I guess your people take marriage pretty seriously," Crichton said.

"We mate for life and will rarely have more than one lover in our lifetime. Even if your mate dies, you are still considered married to them until your death," Jool said, with no apparent emotion.

Crichton couldn't help recognising the implication.

"I guess this thing with Crais must feel a bit strange to you," he said.

"Like I said before Crichton," Jool said. "I don't want to talk about it."

"Maybe you need to," he replied. "It's obviously still bothering you."

Jool just glared at him.

"Right. You don't want to talk about it."

"Thank you," Jool said, shooting him another warning look.

Their guest began to stir. She opened her eyes.

"Who are you?" She asked.

"I'm John...." Crichton began.

"Not you," she said. She pointed to Jool. "You."

"Joolushku Tunai Fenta Hovalis," Jool replied, for once getting to use her full name.

The woman stretched out a hand and gripped Jool's wrist. As far as Crichton could tell, this was some sort of greeting.

"Alaina Tyleene Jakava Marass," she said. Then she laughed. "I haven't introduced myself like that in a long time."

"The last time I did was when I arrived. Around here, I'm referred to as Jool," Jool replied, with a slightly resentful look at Crichton.

"Then I'll stick with Alaina. Where am I?"

"The ship is called Moya," Crichton said. "She's a leviathan."

"Who is he?" Alaina asked, directing her question to Jool.

"That's Crichton," Jool said, shooting him a glance. "Just one of the degenerate aliens I'm forced to share this ship with."

"Hey, if it weren't for this degenerate alien you'd still be frozen waiting to have your organs harvested," Crichton said.

Jool stared right back.

"If it weren't for you, my cousins would still be alive," she said.

"Look, Jool, they were frozen a microt before they died. You know that. There was nothing that anybody could have done. Can you please just deal?"

"Fine," Jool said. "Alaina, Crichton calls himself a human. He claims that our species are somehow related."

"I've never heard of that species," Alaina replied, finally turning her gaze to him. Her intense scrutiny reminded Crichton disturbingly of his first encounter with Crais.

"I come from somewhere on the other side of the universe, I got shot through a wormhole by accident and was stuck here," he said, feeling slightly uncomfortable.

"I suggest you stop him now," Jool said. "This story is rather long."

"How about I leave you two ladies to get better acquainted?" Crichton said, keen to leave.

"Interesting," Jool said, looking thoughtful. "Perhaps you do have some measure of intelligence about you after all."

Crichton resisted the temptation to answer back. This was one argument he never seemed to win. Instead he gave Alaina a weak smile and left. Both Interions watched him go.

"So," Alaina said, when he had gone. "How the hezmana did I end up here?"

"Crichton insisted that we brought your ship aboard. We found it floating dead in space, surrounded by debris," Jool replied.

"How's my ship?"

"I don't know. Nobody tells me anything around here, but I think it's damaged."

"Will I be able to stay here until it's been repaired?" Alaina asked.

"Everyone who comes aboard seems to be allowed to stay," Jool said.

Alaina slowly sat up on the medibed.

"Jool, what did Crichton mean about you being frozen?" She asked, curiously.

"I went on a multi-planet trip for my birthday," Jool said, the injustice of it all rising to the surface once again. "My cousins got sick, and all three of us were sold as organ donors. I was cryogenically frozen for twenty-two cycles before these people woke me up."

"I knew I shouldn't have asked," Alaina said, grimacing.

"What's it like back home?" Jool asked suddenly. "Twenty-two cycles...everything must have changed."

Alaina shrugged.

"I haven't been back in almost twenty cycles myself," she said. "I lost my husband and both my sons and it didn't seem much like home after that."

"What about the rest of your family?" Jool asked, sympathetically.

"Both my parents died when I was young. They were both only children so I had no uncles, aunts or cousins. I have one sister, but we have...grown apart. Do you have any brothers and sisters Joolushku?"

"No. I'm an only child. I was always close to my cousins, until...." Jool broke off.

"Are you planning to go back home?"

"Of course. My parents might still be alive. I mean, I'm sure they are," Jool said firmly. "How have you survived all this time on your own?"

Alaina shrugged.

"You learn to survive. If you're away long enough you'll learn too."

"What?" Jool said. "Become like these...aliens?"

Alaina looked serious.

"Jool, I know that you want to go home and I know that you don't want to change. But if you don't...you won't live long enough to get back. Take it from somebody who knows - you'll have to get used to doing a lot of things differently."

"I've already had to do quite enough *differently*," Jool said.

"What do you mean?" Alaina asked.

Maybe it was because she hadn't seen another Interion in so long, maybe it wasn't, but Jool found herself trusting her. And telling her everything...almost.

"I don't know how I'm ever going to look at him again," Jool said.

"That would be one of the things you're going to have to get used to," Alaina said wryly.

"I can't get used to it. It's completely humiliating," Jool said.

"If that's the worst thing you have to do in your lifetime you'll be very lucky," Alaina replied.

"What do you mean?" Jool asked.

"Nothing of importance," Alaina said. "You'll survive. You never know what you can do until you have to do it."

***

A monen after he had left, Crais returned to Moya with Talyn. He gave no reason for his absence and nobody asked him for one. Jool, very much to his relief, said nothing to him. While Crais was certain that she hadn't forgotten, at least she didn't want to discuss it.

Their new guest made him edgy, however. He couldn't put his finger on what it was about her, but something made him uncomfortable. Maybe it was because she seemed so friendly with Jool, which made him wonder if Jool had told her anything about him. Not that he expected that she would want to talk about it.

His suspicion grew when she requested a tour of Talyn. She must have spent enough time with the crew of Moya for them to have filled her in about his less-than-rosy past, yet she didn't seem even the least bit apprehensive about being alone on Talyn with him and that made him worried. What did she know that he didn't?

He gave no outward sign of concern as he guided her around his ship, every dench the experienced Captain. Bialar Crais had not survived this long without knowing that revealing too much could be all that was necessary to tip the scales in his opponent's favour. He didn't know if she truly was an enemy, but he did not intend to give her an advantage over him if she was.

Alaina toured Talyn in almost complete silence. She appeared to listen to what he told her, but asked no questions. She seemed to instinctively know what was what. That made him even more suspicious. Something was not right about her. He still didn't know the circumstances that had led to her rescue by Moya's crew. Nobody seemed to - maybe Jool did, but he wouldn't ask her.

When their tour was over, she thanked him and returned to Moya. The feeling of unease lingered. Talyn seemed to have no such misgivings. He responded enthusiastically to her presence - unusual for someone unfamiliar and non-Sebacean. Crais knew that many of Talyn's prejudices came from him and he was sorry for that, but this behaviour worried him. It was so unlike Talyn to be this trusting of someone he knew almost nothing of.

***

"You just spent three arns alone with Crais. Why?" Jool asked.

"I just wanted to clear up a few things," Alaina replied.

"I thought he was giving you a tour of Talyn?"

"He was. At least, that was my excuse," Alaina said casually.

"For what?" Jool asked, then she stared. "You're not...attracted to him, are you?"

Alaina laughed.

"He's really not my type," she said. "I prefer my men to come with a little less emotional baggage. I just wanted to find out how he felt about you."

"You asked him?" Jool said in disbelief. "How could you do that?"

"Don't be silly, of course I didn't ask him. He's not the type who would share that easily. His mind is so closed up, it's almost impossible to penetrate," Alaina said.

"Yes, but...what did you say?" Jool asked, freezing where she was.

Too late Alaina realised her mistake.

"Nothing of importance," she said.

"You said," Jool said, "that his mind was difficult to penetrate."

"I...I meant...."

"You can read his mind."

"Jool...."

"You're a...telsarne," Jool said, in a shocked voice.

"Jool...."

"How could you not tell me?"

"Well...."

"If my parents knew that I was here...associating myself with one of you...."

Jool stopped mid-sentence, turned on her heel and walked out. Alaina watched her go.

***

"I thought I should tell you all," Alaina said simply.

"So...you're a telepath?" Crichton asked, uncomfortably. "You know everything we're thinking, even...personal stuff?"

Alaina smiled.

"I only read minds when I choose, it requires too much concentration to do all the time. And I try not to pry too much unless it serves a purpose. You, Crichton, have nothing to worry about. I have read nothing in your mind that was not already obvious...."

She eyes slid towards Aeryn. Crichton grinned sheepishly.

"I think we *all* know what you think about, my friend," D'Argo said, obviously teasing.

"Yeah, I'm a regular billboard," Crichton said, looking slightly embarassed.

"I need to talk to Jool," Alaina said.

Crais had sat quiet throughout this whole conversation, carefully taking in all the details of the situation. But when she rose, he followed her out. As soon as the door was closed she turned to face him.

"Your request for a tour of Talyn was simply an excuse to read my mind," Crais stated, carefully controlling his anger.

"Yes," Alaina replied, not trying to weasel out of it.

"And you could also read Talyn's mind, and communicate with him in that way. That is why he accepted you as readily as he did," Crais continued.

"Again, you are correct," Alaina said. "I did not intend to read Talyn when I came aboard, but he seemed unusually sensitive to telepathy. He welcomed my thoughts or I would not have continued to read him."

"But I did not give you permission to read my mind, nor would I," Crais said angrily.

"You have every right to be angry, but I did not mean you any harm. I simply wanted to ascertain your feelings on one particular subject. Once I had, I withdrew."

"Jool," Crais said, realisation dawning.

"Jool," Alaina replied, with a smile. "Thoughts of you were bothering her and I wanted to reassure her if I could. I suspect if it had been left to the two of you, you would never have spoken. However, it will now be resolved."

"What exactly did you want to know?" Crais asked, rather doubting that he wanted to know the answer but refusing to remain in ignorance.

"The truth. The answer to her question."

"Which is?" Crais asked, his patience wearing thin.

"If you want to know, you'll have to ask her," Alaina replied, and headed down the corridor.

Crais watched her go.

***

"Can I come in?" Alaina said, waiting in the doorway.

"I don't want to talk to you," Jool replied, turning away from her.

"We need to talk."

"I don't want to talk," Jool said, edgily.

"I think we should," Alaina said, moving forward.

Jool advanced towards her suddenly.

"You lied to me," Jool said, her hair flaming.

"I never lied. I simply...didn't tell you everything."

"That is just as bad. In fact it's worse. I trusted you. I told you everything."

"No you didn't," Alaina replied. "No-one knows that better than me."

"If I didn't tell you something, it was because I didn't want you to know, not because I wanted you to extract it from my mind!"

"Well I'm sorry," Alaina said. "But I wasn't given a choice in this. You're the genetics expert. You know that I could not have prevented this ability from developing."

Jool didn't answer.

"I am a telsarne, a mindreader. I was born that way. But I am still Interion and I am still your friend."

"Friends are honest with one another," Jool said, regretting her words a moment later.

"Then be honest with me," Alaina said. "You may have told me all the trivial things in your life but you have hidden the most important thing in your mind."

"I don't want to talk about it," Jool said, turning to leave.

Alaina grasped her shoulder and pulled her back.

"Joolushku Tunai Fenta Hovalis, whether you know it or not, you are every bit as difficult as he is. Is it so hard to believe that someone other than you might be right?"

"About what?" Jool said, edgily.

"About you needing to talk about this. It is obviously bothering you, so get rid of that Iranian fuzzle bat blocking your vocal cords and talk!"

Jool just looked at her.

"Jool," Alaina said, in a softer tone, "I'm sorry for not telling you about this. But I have lived having to hide this every moment of every day for a long time. You know how telsarnes are viewed. Telling anyone is a big risk, one that very few ever take."

Jool's expression softened slightly, but she still remained silent.

"Talk to me now."

"You can just read my mind."

"Talk!"

"No," Jool said quietly.

Alaina changed tactics. She came to sit beside Jool, a twinkle appeared in her eye.

"You know...I really did find out some interesting things while I was on Talyn."

"I don't want to know."

"Okay. But, incidentally, the answer to your question is yes."

"Yes? Are you sure?" Jool asked, before she could stop herself.

"Yes. Although I would have thought you could have worked it out for yourself," Alaina replied, amused at her response.

"How? He just did it because he had to," Jool said, trying to pretend she didn't care.

"Once," Alaina said with a wicked grin. "That doesn't explain the other three times."

Jool's face went as red as her hair.

"You didn't honestly think he was *that* concerned for your welfare, did you?" Alaina added, still grinning.

"No," Jool said sheepishly. "But...I still don't know how he really feels about this."

"Honestly," Alaina said, "neither does he. What about you?"

"I don't know either," Jool said. "Everything used to be so simple. Now...I don't know anything."

"Are you attracted to him?" Alaina asked.

"I don't know," Jool said. "I mean...he's handsome, but he's not Interion. Maybe I am...I just don't know."

"What about love?"

"Love?" Jool said, in disbelief. "Crais?"

Alaina laughed.

"I'll take that as a no then," she said.

"I barely know him. Crichton and the others don't seem to have very high opinions of him. But when he was helping me with the boolite, he seemed at least fairly...nice and he acts like he's intelligent. And when that Tech was firing at us...I suppose he saved my life."

Jool saw the look she was getting from Alaina.

"I don't know, okay. It's too complicated for me to decide right now," she said, looking away.

"From what I've seen, I think the same would apply to him."

"Are you sure?"

"No," Alaina said. "You'll have to ask him."

***

"I want to talk to you," Jool said. "I...would like, to talk to you."

"About what?" Crais asked, although he already knew.

"When I...what you...it was very...awkward for me," Jool said, struggling to find the right words. "I mean, you're not Interion and I was very...uncertain and now I feel...strange around you. Where I come from the man I...he would have become my husband. This...contrasts with everything I have been taught. If I was still on my home world, this would have been unthinkable. I...don't know how to deal with it."

This was all sounding very familiar to Crais.

"I imagine it would feel much as it does for Officer Sun and myself, adjusting to life outside the Peacekeepers," Crais replied.

Jool nodded.

"I hope...I just want to forget about this."

"That is impossible," Crais said matter-of-factly.

Jool looked at him, trying to work out what he meant by that.

"The past cannot be forgotten," Crais explained, suspecting that she had misunderstood his statement. "It must be accepted and left behind."

"Then I hope we can accept it," Jool said. "And be...."

She didn't finish her sentence.

"Friends?" Crais asked, studying her intently.

"Friends," Jool said, his gaze making her uncomfortable.

"You may wish to think more carefully about who you choose to be your friends," Crais said.

He walked out at that, leaving Jool thinking about what he had said.

***

"Are you sure you won't stay longer?" Jool asked.

"My ship is fixed."

"Where will you go?"

"Somewhere, anywhere. Who knows, maybe we'll meet again some day."

Alaina stopped as she climbed into her ship.

"Word of advice Jool. Work on overcoming your old prejudices. You'll get on better if you leave them behind. This is your life now. You may not like it, but you may never get the old one back so make the most of it while it lasts."

"Any more advice?" Jool asked, crossing her arms across her chest in annoyance at the lecture.

"Have fun," Alaina said.

Jool smiled.

"With anyone you choose," Alaina added, smiling suggestively.

Jool looked thoughtful for a microt.

"Maybe I will."